Before leaving high school I was introduced to Australian folk song. I purchased Gary Shearston’s long play recording (LP) Folk Songs and Ballads of Australia with money given to me for my sixteenth birthday. At this time I had started reading a lot of Australian history books.
In 1965 I began a Bachelor of Arts degree at Sydney University, majoring in Modern History, English and Anthropology. During this time my musical experience was confined mainly to the radio, although I had started buying selected LP’s. Further recordings of Gary Shearston, along with those of Americans Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary were arousing considerable interest. A documentary shown at a Sydney Film Festival introduced me to the writing of the Canadian poet Leonard Cohen. As a result of this, I bought Cohen’s LP Songs From A Room when I happened to see it in a North Sydney record shop.
There was relevance in many of these so-called “protest” songs to the world in which we lived and engaging stories were told in other songs. As a result, my ears became surprisingly tolerant of the many singing voices, along with their varying qualities and styles. The words of songs began to take on a new importance for me.